This was an excellent tour. It may be that we were lucky to have Priscilla as a guide (she actually has an archeological background), but anyway she was superb - informed, full of detail, always ready to answer questions, witty and a good but never officious organiser. She even commented on areas we passed on the (relatively short) journey to the area. One could not ask for better.
The tour is very convenient in combining visits to the two locations. Villa d'Este is more or less in the centre of Tivoli, but Hadrian's Villa is in a small town a couple of miles away, and would have been much less convenient for us to visit on our own. Both locations are amazing: d'Este chiefly for its wonderful fountains, which are dazzling in the sun (so try to arrange to go on a fine day!). Hadrian's Villa, which is a larger site, is a striking example of what the Romans got up to in truly sybaritic mode, and Priscilla was particularly knowledgeable about this site.
Inevitably, there were areas we might have explored at greater leisure on our own, but there was no sense of hassle on the tour, and the benefit of having a guide and an organised itinerary outweighed any other considerations. Our one suggestion is to give people just a little longer over lunch (which was in the centre of the small town of Tivoli). There are plenty of places to eat, and Priscilla's recommendation provided quick friendly service and good food, so we can recommend it, but it would have been nice to feel that bit more relaxed, and perhaps to have fifteen minutes longer than the 50 we were allowed! However, this is just a small reservation in an otherwise excellent and memorable tour.
The tour office is pretty easy to find (near the central station), and the formalities were all handled in a pleasantly informal manner. We actually booked the tour online from our hotel while we were in Rome, and everything went exactly according to plan. Full marks!
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